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Research News

Hicks Receives IGERT Grant to Study Liquid Crystal Elastomer Biological Sensors

Posted Sep. 9, 2009

Chemical Physics Interdisciplinary Program (CPIP) Student Sarah Hicks recently received a one-year, IGERT (Integrated Graduate Education and Research Traineeships) grant from the National Science Foundation. Three IGERT grants were awarded to Kent State University under Principal Investigator Professor Laura Leff of the KSU Biological Sciences Department. Hicks, who will receive a one-year $30,000 stipend, will do interdisciplinary research on a project involving environmental sensing in fresh water systems.

Under the direction of CPIP Professors Deng-ke Yang and Qi-Huo Wei, Hicks will make liquid crystal elastomers to be used as sensors of bacteria and toxin levels. She will attend the first trainee workshop from September 17-20 at Lake Lacawac in the Poconos Mountains of Pennsylvania. In addition, there will also be education outreach and business entrepreneurship components of the project.

Hicks hopes this work will eventually become part of her polymer stabilized liquid crystal systems doctoral dissertation work. “I really like doing display research, but it is very interesting to see what other things liquid crystals can do besides displaying information on televisions and cell phones. Also, I’m really excited to enjoy spending some time on Lake Lacawac at the workshop,” Hicks said.

The IGERT program supports graduate education and training in a collaborative research environment transcending traditional disciplinary boundaries. Of interest, too, is diversity in student participation and preparation and a world-class, broadly inclusive, engaged science and engineering workforce. All stipend recipients supported by IGERT funds must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States, its territories or possessions. To learn more about the IGERT program visit: